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Identifying the Right Clients for Your Business

Posted on February 6, 2017 in Strategy


As your business grows, it can be tempting to take on every client you can. As such, many businesses mistakenly assume that more clients is always better.

It’s about time we break away from that line of thought. The truth is, not all business is created equal.

For a business to achieve sustainable growth, carefully picking new clients is a vital step. Yes, this does mean saying no to some clients. It also means passing on some opportunities. But the trade-off of short-term momentum for long-term growth is well worth it. A strategy for picking the perfect client is a strategy for growing now, tomorrow, and next year too.

This mentality can sound counter-intuitive, but stop and think about the time and energy you give to every client. Depending on the size of your company, you have a limited amount of these resources. With that in mind, it pays off to choose clients that are easy to work with, mesh well with your company’s services and culture, and share your vision.

Think of it like a baseball roster. The Tigers have exactly 25 spots on their roster, and there’s thousands of players that want to join the team every year. But for every decent or mediocre player the team drafts, they’re benching another Verlander or Cabrera.

So how do you pick the right clients? Start by thinking about your current clients — which ones are a joy to work with? Which ones are you proud to call your clients and list on your website? Conversely…which ones are you always putting more time into to make them happy, because they need it? Which ones are like “herding cats” to keep focused, or seem to be on a different page entirely? Make an internal list brainstorming what makes for a good client versus a bad one.

Once you’ve put some thought into it, you can make a list of considerations to keep in mind when courting new clients. This list should be tailored to fit your business, but it might be include questions like this:

  • Does this business hold similar values and goals? Shared values and goals is a foundation for mutual respect.
  • Does this business fit our culture? Your clients you choose to work with are almost as important to your culture as your own employees. Choose accordingly.
  • Do they share your vision? If you’re an ambitious company with a vision for groundbreaking work, it doesn’t make sense to partner with a company that’s hesitant to try anything new or push boundaries.
  • Do they have a great brand? If their brand feels lackluster, then will you feel good about promoting your partnership? Faking excitement about a partner’s brand is no good for anyone.
  • Can you meet and exceed their needs? Maybe this client seems like a joy to work with, but they’re looking for expertise outside your wheelhouse. Don’t take on a client if you know they’ll find better work elsewhere.
  • Are they going to be easy to work with? Do they demonstrate a respect for your time and talent? Or will they expect you to redo two weeks of work with no feedback other than “I don’t like it?” See if their reputation precedes them and pay attention to how they treat employees.

Choosing the right clients is good business sense, plain and simple. A bad partnership wastes time and energy for both parties. By picking quality clients, you will make your life easier, grow sustainably, and leave clients more satisfied.

A colleague once told me that “Every agency gets the clients that they deserve”. I am finding this out to be more and more true every day.

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